Essex is a town in Essex County, Massachusetts, 26 miles (42 km) north of Boston. The population was 3,504 at the 2010 census.
Essex was incorporated as a town in 1819. It was previously a part of the town of Ipswich and was then calledChebacco Parish. The first European settlers arrived in 1634. At that time, the land formed part of an area inhabited by Native Americans of the Agawam tribe. The name Chebacco is Agawam in origin and refers to a large lake whose waters extend into neighboring Hamilton. Conomo Point, the easternmost part of the town, is named for the Sagamore or Chief of the Agawams, Masconomo, the leader of the tribe in the late 17th century. Early on, Chebacco Parish lobbied for status as an independent town, asking for permission to build a meeting house. In colonial times, the existence of a meeting house in a settlement conferred de factoautonomy, so Chebacco Parish was denied permission to build such a structure. Popular history tells that one written dictate was issued stating that "no man shall raise a meeting house", so the residents of the settlement interpreted it as to mean that women would be allowed to do so. It is reported that a local woman, Madam Varney, assembled the town's women and construction of a meeting house was carried out by them while the men looked on. Jeremiah Shepard was a minister at the church in Chebacco Parish from 1678 to 1680. He was succeeded by John Wise, who was pastor of Chebacco Parish from 1680 to his death in 1725.